Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett Book Review

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett is a book that teaches readers how to use design thinking to create a meaningful, joyful, and fulfilling life. The authors, Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, share the content of their popular courses and workshops on life design and teach solid principles and practices for living a meaningful life.

The book encourages readers to use design thinking to create an Odyssey Plan, which is a five-year plan that outlines the life you want to live. It also suggests keeping a Wayfinding Journal, which is a log of your daily activities and reflections on them. This helps you to understand your motivations, skills, and goals – and what tradeoff you are willing to make.

The book also encourages readers to see the world through their user’s eyes, to recognize that everyone has a story, to design for one can be design for all, to build then think, and to build on ideas.

Designing Your Life is an empowering book based on the popular class of the same name at Stanford University. It provides useful fact-finding exercises, an empathetic tone, and sensible advice to help readers create a life worth living.

What I Liked

I love the concept and practice and wish that every high school and college counselor would read & adopt this book.

The idea is super simple – write out the end goal and then reverse engineer the design to achieve that end goal.

Nobody would pickup some random tools, some wood, start carving & drilling and truly expect a chair to appear. But that is exactly how we equip young people for their life. Take some classes, “work hard”, do some interesting stuff and POOF – you’ll be living the life you wanted?

Instead, this book shows how to design your end goal for each stage of your life, define the tradeoffs necessary for that goal, and the build out an achievable plan to “manufacture” that end goal.

It’s obvious once I read it but it’s not so obvious intuitively.

What I Did Not Like

Not a whole lot! It’s a fabulous book that I wish I had read in high school or early college.

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